Children who emotionally eat (EE) tend to consume palatable foods that are high in sugar and fat. How EE develops remains unclear, but children’s temperament and parental feeding practices may interact to shape child EE. To date, no research has explored these interaction effects on EE experimentally. Furthermore, most research has explored EE in response to generic ‘negative’ mood rather than specific negative emotions, such as boredom, which has never been explored in this context. This study aimed to explore interactions between induced mood condition (sadness, boredom, control), parent-reported non-responsive feeding practices and parent-reported child temperament (negative affect, surgency, effortful control) in predicting kilocalories consumed by children aged 4–5-years in a laboratory setting. Using three-way ANOVA, the interactions between mood state, parental feeding practice and child temperament were assessed. Results indicated that children who experienced boredom consumed significantly more total kilocalories than children in the control condition. Additionally, children with high negative affect who also had parents who reported high use of food for emotion regulation consumed significantly more kilocalories from sweet food when experiencing boredom compared to control condition, and children with high negative affect who also had parents who reported low use of food as a reward consumed significantly more kilocalories from sweet food when experiencing boredom compared to control condition. These findings suggest that feelings of boredom differentially predict children’s snack food intake, and that child negative affect and non-responsive feeding practices play an important role in the expression of this relationship.
Bibliographical noteCopyright 2023 The Authors. CC BY 4.0
- Emotional eating
- Parental Feeding Practices